Placement Decisions for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

Special education placements are a continuum from least restrictive to most restrictive.

By Charlotte Cushman, MLS, M.Ed.

The Federal law known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has two fundamental requirements: that the child receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This does not mean that all children will automatically go to their local public schools and be included in general education classes for the full day, but rather the educational team will review with the family what the most appropriate placement is for each individual student, depending on his or her needs, as well as the programming that is available.

Special education placements are a continuum from least restrictive to most restrictive:

This continuum does not suggest any one of the options being better or worse, as it depends entirely on the individual student. For example, a student who is totally blind with additional disabilities may be more fully included at a residential school for the blind, where he or she can be on sports teams and other extracurricular activities, as well as more fully included in social activities.

For example: .

Charlotte Cushman, MLS, M.Ed. has been in the field of blindness and visual impairment for over 35 years, as a teacher and an international consultant. She is currently the manager of the Paths to Literacy website for Perkins School for the Blind and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.